Can it be true? No, sir or ma'am, there isn't a smudge on your screen and it's not Opposite Day: I have actually discovered some good things about quarantine. Granted, none of these good things trump, say, leaving your house and seeing your friends, but without the silver linings (though said linings may be tarnished silver and razor thin), we lose our will to see this thing through with our best behaviors and intentions. So, yes, here are some good things about an otherwise inarguably shitty situation.
1) I have made a healthy green smoothie every single day. I could harp on the fact that this means I have also washed my blender every single day, but we're trying to stay positive here, so the good news is I am consuming so much spinach I'm putting Popeye to shame.
2) I have started making my bed regularly. Y'know how every time you change your sheets you make your bed up all nice and you think to yourself, "Wow, this is the start of a new me, I'm going to do this every day" and then the next morning your comforter resembles a giant discarded piece of gum? Normally, same. But something has come over me lately, and taking the five minutes in the morning has added a little somethin'-somethin' to my morning routine.
Maybe it's the jump start on productivity. Maybe it's the fact that my room looks nice every time I pass it on the way to the bathroom. Maybe it's knowing that when it's time to finally discard the decorative throw pillows and crawl under the covers, it feels like I've had a full day and deserve to tuck myself into a sheet burrito.
When your apartment is your bedroom/bathroom/office/gym/bar/restaurant, I find it helpful to try, at least, and keep the bedroom to what it is. I don't find myself hanging out in there much during the day, and having a made bed helps. This whole section has been so deeply unrelatable to my grandfather, who not only makes the bed every morning, but is also dressed in a nice shirt, slacks, a belt, shoes, and socks every day by 9 a.m.
3) A book I've had preordered since 2018 finally came out, and with all this extra time, I was able to read it carefully and enjoy it down to the punctuation.
4) I bought a cast iron skillet and have successfully not only roasted a whole chicken, but made soup with its remains. And not once, but twice! Nothing makes you feel more domestically gifted than homemade chicken stock.
5) Going to Target––a fun form of escapism in my previous life––is now reserved solely for essential shopping trips. Yes, if you were wondering, wine and Velveeta shells and cheese are essential. The good news is, though, I've managed to not even slow my cart down to a dawdle when passing by the clothing and knick-knack sections. I completely pass over these spending hotspots and remain in the boring, practical, grown-up areas of the store. This, genuinely, is a huge win for my wallet.
6) Treats feel more special, because they have to be. Last week, I had the idea to get soft serve ice cream with my mom. In a time pre-COVID, this might be a total spur-of-the-moment idea that over the warmer months finds its way into normal routine. But now, cold confections require advance planning. Something about waiting literal days makes the anticipation of a small cone feel akin to Christmas morning. So yes, placing a curbside pickup order from Dairy Queen and having a masked man hand you soft serve at a respectable arm's length does feel quite bizarre, but finally scratching that premeditated itch is sweet relief. I don't think I've ever seen rainbow sprinkles so vibrant.
7) I haven't had that gut-churning feeling of sitting in traffic watching the minutes tick by in months. You know the one: Anxiously huffing as your GPS's estimated time of arrival gets later and later, while your appointment, shift, or meeting start time creeps up on you. Now the roads are clear as can be, and even if they weren't it's like, Hey, where do I have to be? I'm just going to wait in a line to get into the grocery store, and then after that I just have to be home at a reasonable hour so I can start drinking in my pajamas.
8) I look forward to podcasts, TV shows, and other regularly scheduled content I like now more than ever before. Nothing like reading the phrase "New episode available!" to get this little sheltered heart a-fluttering. Plus, it's a good way to keep track of what day it is.
9) My normal form of exercise (spin classes far too many times per week) are cancelled indefinitely, which means I've been taking virtual HIIT cardio classes and going for walks. While I would much prefer dancing on a stationary bike with my friends, saving money and learning how to do a good burpee aren't awful consolation prizes.
10) As cheesy as it sounds, I often find myself in Ferris Bueller-esque moments, lamenting, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Of course I miss my old life. I miss my friends. I miss my job. I miss the ritual of going to work out on a Sunday morning and stopping for an overpriced coffee on the way home. I miss going shopping for fun and standing too close to strangers in sweaty concert halls. But in this new life I have, I've been able to slow down and notice things I never had before. I notice how my cat moves through my tiny apartment, chasing the sunshine and capitalizing on the warmest places to sleep. I notice the magnolia buds on the tree outside my window that unfurl a bit more each day. I notice how diligently the underpaid cashiers churn through customers while still maintaining kind eyes.
Don't get me wrong, I hate this. I hate that a virus is political. I hate that adults can't agree on what counts as common decency. I hate that I haven't eaten basketfuls of salt-dredged tortilla chips while gossiping on a restaurant patio. But without good things – without training our eyes to see the obscured positives – we lose our will to make this all worth it.